The tort of intentional emotional distress is not only a controversial topic among laymen, but it is also a problematic point of law among lawyers and judges. With regards to the issue at hand, jerry embarks on a mission to make George uncomfortable at the workplace, in order to force him to quit. The fact that jerry, on purpose and by choice turns off the air conditioner in George’s office demonstrates that the act is intentional. Human beings are social animals and, therefore, a person requires the comfort of other fellow beings to live comfortably. Jerry, however, to frustrate George urges everyone at the office to shun and avoid George. Furthermore, Jerry infringes on the right to privacy of Georgia by broadcasts George’s personal messages conversations in the company loud speakers. The issues at hand, therefore, are whether these acts were intentional and whether they are capable of causing emotional distress to jerry.
Intentional infliction of emotional distress is a wrong that is under tort law. There are four cardinal elements that must be proved in order for a person to be charged with this tortuous act. These include; first, the overt act of the defendant must be reckless or intentional; secondly, this act must be outrageous and extreme against the plaintiff; thirdly, there must be a causal link between the overt act and the tortuous wrong and; fourthly, the act must cause severe emotional distress. These are the vocal points of law that a litigant must prove in a court of law in order to establish case on intentional infliction of emotional distress. All the four points must be proved for the tort to be established. Therefore, it is not enough for a litigant to prove one point alone. Under North Carolina law the four points above are a requisite mandatory. The courts of law have, however, been reluctant in some cases to find cases of intentional inflictions of emotional distress in employment cases. In the case of Jackson v. Blue Dolphin (2002), the presiding judge acknowledged this fact. In the case of Dickens v. Puryear (1981) it was held that the plaintiff must prove by way of evidence that the defendant’s conduct was both outrageous and extreme and its sole intention was to cause emotional distress to the plaintiff.
The issues at hand are a typical example of intentional infliction of emotional distress tort at the workplace. Jerry purposeful set out to cause extreme emotional distress to his colleague, George, so as to force him to quit employment. Therefore, Jerry’s express objective fulfills the first requirement of the tort. His later actions including turning off the air conditioner in July and broadcasting George’s private conversation on the company loud speaker are extreme and completely outrageous. Such actions are bound not only to humiliate a person, but also to expose him. These actions inter alia causes are the basis upon which George claims are the cardinal causes of his emotional distress. A right thinking member of a contemporary society will be venerable to such acts. Therefore, a prudent ruling will declare that such actions are capable of causing emotional distress. A final reference point is whether, these actions in fact did cause emotional distress to the plaintiff. This is a question of fact. Case law insists that a person should have sought medical help. The onus of proof, therefore, lies on George to prove that he truly did suffer emotional distress.
The tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress is a vital instrument of law. This is because it enables a victim to seek redress and gets compensated for being subjected to inhuman acts. Under the North Carolina law, therefore, as illustrated above, Jerry is not correct to allege that George has not proved a case against him under the tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress. The court should dismiss his motion as he has a case to answer. George has proved all the elements that constitute the charge as required by the laws of North Carolina. It is vital for the courts of law to protect workers and employees form office abuse by employers who are afraid of breaching the terms of a contract but still want to terminate employee employment.
Buckley, W. R., & Okrent, C. J. (2004). Torts Personal Injury Law, 3E. New York: Cengage Learning.
Abele, J. R. (2003). Emotional Distress: Proving Damages. New York: Lawyers & Judges Publishing Company.